Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Signs of a Dying City II
Deteriorating Education System, (to say the least):
This whole school year has been a joke so far, with students attending less than half of the normal school days (curfews, security situation, etc). But I think the greatest bomb of all was dropped this past week on college students who still held out hope of finishing the school year.
I saw my neighbor 'U', a senior at Baghdad University, outside our house today. Neither her nor her brother had attended university today. Apparently, a 'warning' has been given to college students not to attend university for the rest of the school year, as certain students would be targetted for their affiliation with 'death squads' and different militias. Following is a rough translation of the letter, which has been circulating by email and left at different locations. I also heard that large signs around town are announcing this 'news'.
The problem here is not whether or not this letter is authentic, but that it is able to hold power over students and professors alike. 'U' was telling me that she attended university the first couple of days of this week (with knowledge of the threat), but few other students or professors (!) attended. People are scared, and they are taking heed of this lawless group's ridiculous demands. Chaos at its best.
To our dear teachers and students at all Baghdad universities and colleges
In order to protect your blood from the crimes committed by the Maliki government and its death squads... these death squads which have killed, murdered and targeted especially the Sunni students and professors... It is at these universities that the death squads have found a safe haven from which to carry out their attacks against ahlul Sunnah. From these universities scholars and warriors graduated, and at these same places they are being killed.
For this reason, we have decided ... to cancel the rest of the 2006-2007 school year for undergraduate and graduate students at all Baghdad universities and colleges (!!!)... to (1.) protect the blood of our scholars and students and (2.) to purify these institutions from all death squads. We will not be satisfied until we have brought security to them. Elementary, middle and high school students, as well as college students outside of Baghdad are not included in this decision (!).
For this reason, we ask our Sunni and Shiite (those who do not belong to any party) professors and students to avoid attending university completely for the rest of this school year for their protection. We give them three days to finish any business they have at their universities... We know that not attending institutions of knowledge is a painful ordeal, but the killing and murder of scholars is more painful. We also know that Sunni students and professors, as well as the Shiite 'commoners' will heed this warning... .
Today we will avenge our scholars. ... We will choose the time and place to attack you, in your homes, and on your beds and in your schools... You will continue to live in fear until your time comes... We hope that this school year does not end until we have destroyed each one of you (death squad/militia members).
We repeat our words to all Sunnis and to whoever desires to save himself; stay away from the death squads and militias, which have taken universities as their safe haven. Leave the battle to wage between us.
Ansar al Sunnah Group
Again, I don't know how authentic this letter is, I don't know if someone is playing a sad joke on Baghdad or not, I don't know if someone is trying to 'frame' this group or not, but I do know that this letter has had its effect on Baghdad university students. Even if they decide to ignore it and go to class, they find that no one else is attending, neither student nor teacher. Measures need to be taken to bring security to these institutions, or Baghdad will slowly die through the destruction of its coming generation of scholars.